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failing to create favourable conditions for civil society, says
September 23, 2013
A new index
published today by the global civil society network, CIVICUS, shows
that many governments around the world are failing to keep their
promise to create an environment that allows citizens to mobilise
and participate in civil society.
“Despite countless promises from governments that they will
protect civil society, the majority of citizens around the world
live in environments in which they do not have the capacity to participate
freely and fully in the activities, organisations and movements
that seek to better their lives and improve their societies,”
said Dr Danny Sriskandarajah, CIVICUS Secretary-General.
Evidence from around the world suggests that the conditions for
civil society are far from perfect. The CIVICUS 'Enabling Environment
Index’ (EEI) is the first rigorous attempt to measure and
compare the conditions that affect the potential of citizens to
participate in civil society and ranks the governance, socio-cultural
and socio-economic environments for civil society in 109 countries.
“In recent years we have seen popular uprisings from the Arab
Spring to the Occupy movement, but we have also seen far too many
crackdowns on the ability of citizens to mobilise. We wanted to
create a tool that helps understand the conditions facing civil
society in different parts of the world. Our index also helps identify
countries where special attention needs to be paid to strengthening
civil society by the international community,” said Sriskandarajah.
New Zealand tops the list, followed by Canada, Australia, Denmark
and Norway while the Democratic Republic of Congo has the worst
rated EEI, followed by Uzbekistan, Iran, Burundi and the Gambia.
“It is worrying that countries such as Ethiopia (8th lowest)
and Vietnam (10th lowest) that have received substantial development
assistance and are often praised by the international community
for their economic performance have such poor environments for civil
society. Either donor governments and financial institutions have
not found ways to improve conditions for a vibrant civil society
or are actively turning a blind eye to repressive measures.”
“The three worst ranking African countries; DRC, Burundi and
the Gambia are heavily dependent on aid flows. This means that donors
have an important lever to improve conditions if they chose to use
it, whether it is by working with governments or by directly supporting
local civil society,” stated Sriskandarajah.
Co-author of the report, CIVICUS Research Officer, Ciana-Marie Pegus
cautions that the EEI currently has limitations as it looks at long-term
factors that create the conditions for healthy citizen engagement
and is not necessarily indicative of current events.
“There certainly is no civil society utopia. In many countries
with high EEI scores, we have seen recent funding cuts for civil
society and instances of repression in others. For example, in Canada,
which ranks second on the EEI, government-civil society relations
have been strained due to reports of active undermining of sections
of civil society,” said Pegus.
“We know that democracy is only sustainable when citizens
are free and able to connect and mobilise and this is the first
attempt to measure and compare the conditions for citizen participation.
So while it’s a work in progress, we hope the EEI will be
used as tool that will generate debate on the conditions that are
fundamental to the freedoms we all cherish,” concluded Pegus.
The Enabling Environment Index supplements CIVICUS’ ongoing
efforts to track threats to civil society, ranging from restrictive
legislation to politically motivated prosecution of activists to
physical attacks and intimidation of human rights defenders.
Notes to Editors:
- The EEI
is a global composite index developed using secondary data that
seeks to understand the propensity of citizens to participate
in civil society.
- The indicators
that are part of the EEI have different units and scales. In order
to be incorporated into the EEI, they are re-weighted on a scale
of 0-1, with 0 being the least `enabling’ or favourable
environment and 1 being the most enabling.
- The EEI covers
- The number
of countries included in the EEI is determined by data availability.
10 EEI scores
States of America
10 EEI scores
Republic of Congo
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